Currently viewing the tag: "sexual function"

Passing the joint may not be a marijuana thing after all, as recent research shows the penis to be filled with receptors for THC, marijuana’s active ingredient.  As a result, marijuana may have a negative impact on male sexual performance, ultimately leading to erectile dysfunction.  Doh!

Rany Shamloul, a physician with appointments at the University of Ottawa and Queen’s University in Canada as well as the University of Cairo, conducted a review of studies on marijuana to determine how weed affects male sexual function.  He found that many of the studies were not only contradictory, but rife with problems as well.

Some early studies found marijuana to have positive effects, sexually, for men.  For instance, in a 1982 survey 75% of men reported sexual enhancement from smoking marijuana (…love weed, baby).  But a study published last year in the journal European Urology found the penis to contain receptors for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in the Mary Jane.  The receptors are located mainly throughout the smooth muscle of the penis.  Additional lab studies suggest that THC has an inhibitory effect on the muscle.

Says Shamloul, “This is a more serious effect on the erectile function because the smooth muscle makes up 70 percent to 80 percent of the penis itself.”

According to The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 162 million people worldwide use marijuana every year.   More than 22 million use it daily.  That makes understanding long-term effects important, Shamloul said.

Check it and weep, stoners.

As Shamloul says, many of the older studies showing marijuana to have positive effects on sexual performance are flawed in their lack of controlling for perceptual alterations caused by the THC itself.  Other studies from the same year showed male marijuana smokers to have twice the rate of erectile dysfunction as non-smokers.  Another study showed the effects of marijuana on sexual function to be dose specific–small doses having positive effects and larger doses working in the negative.

“What we are really missing are clinical studies,” Shamloul said. “We are stuck with only animal studies and molecular studies, and some clinical studies done in the ’60s and ’70s, most on a very small number of men… We need well-designed, placebo-control studies examining marijuana’s effect in both the short-term and long-term.”

Hmmm…pot and sex…any volunteers?

It’s the 50th Anniversary of the birth control pill. Happy Anniversary!!! Oral contraceptives survived puritanical objections in the 1960s to become women’s first choice in protection. Yay! Woohoo! Yipee!

But wait–it’s not all cake and champagne for the Pill. Recent reports say that the Pill may lower sex drive in women who use it. Doh!

That’s right, a recent study out of Germany showed a relationship between oral contraceptives and loss of libido. The study, published in the May 4th issue the Journal of Sexual Medicine, looked at more than 1,000 female medical students in Germany found that women who used hormonal methods of birth control–mostly oral contraceptives–had lower levels of sexual desire and arousal than women who used non-hormonal methods like condoms or no contraception at all.

Coming from a questionnaire assessing sexual function, the study does not show a causal relationship between using the Pill and lowered sex drive, it merely shows an association. Further studies will be needed to determine if the hormonal changes caused by the Pill actually lead to decreased female sexual desire.

During a woman’s menstrual cycle, hormones fluctuate, causing sexual drive to ebb and flow along with them. At ovulation, sexual desire is at its highest. The Pill blocks ovulation with a surge of hormones, fooling the body into thinking it’s pregnant–no need to ovulate if fertilization has already occurred.

Researchers believe that free circulating testosterone is responsible for sex drive in women. Although still uncertain of the connection, testosterone has been shown to relieve a form of female sexual dysfunction called hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD). The Pill, think researchers, affects the circulation of free testosterone in the blood, leading to loss of libido.

Several criticisms of the study point out its limitations. First, study participants were asked only whether they were in a stable relationship, not how long they had been in a relationship. One critic points out that it is well known that sexual frequency and desire tend to plummet over time. Kim Wallen, an Emory University professor of psychology and neuroendocrinology, says:

“We know that long-term relationships increase the risk of female sexual dysfunction–a condition easily treated with a new partner, which is many times more effective than any drug or hormone.”

Word to that, Kim Wallen. Another weakness of the study is that is was observational and not controlled. Women were not assigned methods of contraception, they had already chosen them. There could be an underlying predisposition for women with lowered sex drives to choose oral contraceptives over other methods of birth control.

Finally, some believe that characterizing lowered sex drive as a dysfunction is erroneous, as it may simply be relational. Hmmm…I’d have to agree with that one. Some people want it more than others, no doubt. But as far as correlations go, I think this is an interesting one. What they’ve got going for them on this study is it was the largest of its kind to look at this question, and it took a homogeneous group–German women of the same age, educated, and relatively healthy–and found an interesting correlation. I think the scientist may be on to something here.

Anyway, I think this whole deal has a sort of ironic twist to it, don’t you? No better way to prevent pregnancy than not doing it. I guess in that regard the Pill has hit its mark. Happy Birthday Pill.

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